Remember when food trucks were a rarity in Seattle? Back before roving restaurants became ubiquitous, it was big news when a newcomer popped up. Food trucks have helped restaurants like Skillet and Marination launch mini-empires, testing out new concepts with diners before investing in the overhead and taking the risks associated with starting a brick-and-mortar restaurant.
The truck movement eventually became so popular that the reverse happened: established restaurants launched miniature versions of themselves on wheels, roaming the metropolitan area and dishing out cheaper, fast-food versions of their sit-down menus, enticing customers to the brand and the business. Now, food trucks are everywhere, with pods of them established in high-traffic areas around town and more options than you can possibly keep track of.
There are the big names, of course: Snout & Co, Cheese Wizards, Sam Choy’s Poke to the Max, and more. But there are also scores of food trucks out there you likely haven’t tried, and these four under-the-radar picks are worth going out of your way for these final days of summer.
HoloHolo Food Truck: Hoku Kim is bringing the classic Hawaiian plate lunch—which he grew up eating in his native Hawaii—to the masses with this new truck, which started rolling June 8. For those unfamiliar with the meal, it typically includes a main entree, two scoops of rice, and macaroni salad. It’s a staple in the islands, where beach-side drive-ins and diners offer the filling and unembellished meal to surfers and workers alike. Look for kalua pork, barbecue chicken, and spam musubi on the menu.
Chick’n Fix: Husband-and-wife team John and Mari Rudd have been cooking food at summer festivals around the region for years. They decided to go mobile in 2013 with Chick’n Fix, whose menu revolves—duh—around chicken. There’s the classic battered-and-fried chicken strips served on a pile of French fries, but also a few elements of Filipino cuisine, too, like lumpia (Filipino egg rolls) and bola bola, a meatball that on the truck is made with chicken and rice and then plunked in the deep fryer.
Seattle Mamak: If you want Malaysian food in Seattle, good luck. You can either stand in line at Kedai Makan or try to make it yourself; those are pretty much your only options. Seattle Mamak, which started showing up at the Ballard mini-pod this spring, is another great option, albeit with a small menu. The term “mamak” refers to Malaysians with roots in Tamil, India, and as such the truck serves Malaysian and Indian specialties like roti, curry laksa, and mango tofu salad.
Falafel Salam: Shimi Kahn brings the food of his native Israel to the masses with Falafel Salam. Kahn, who moved to Seattle at the age of 21, missed the cuisine of home and started serving falafel at the Fremont Sunday Market in 2009. The food truck serves favorites like sandwiches encased in homemade pita and plates of falafel, shwarma, gyro, and more. Kahn sources organic, local, and free-range meat, and is working to make the switch to local and organic dairy and eggs, too. He imports staple ingredients like tahini from Lebanon and olive oil from Syria, which he believes are essential to the quality of his food.
To track the trucks’ latest movements, check out their websites and social media accounts. They're a great way to sample new cuisine, or support a chef’s adventurous side. And you may discover the makings of the Seattle's next hot restaurant in the process.